September 17, 2018

The key to successful leadership? Self-reflection


15 minutes. That’s all it takes to significantly improve your leadership abilities. By using 15 minutes of your day to reflect on what you’ve done, what could have gone better, and a variety of other questions, you will be able to pinpoint clear areas for self-improvement.

Leadership isn’t all about bravado and building on success – it’s about having the awareness to identify your vulnerabilities, work on them, and ultimately succeed. And it’s this that will really help you reach the next stage of the career ladder.

What could self-reflection do for you?

How often do you think about what you could do better?

How often do you think about what you could do better? Maybe once or twice a year, during an annual or bi-annual performance review? In today’s fast-paced world, continuous improvement is integral to success. But people rarely set aside the time to genuinely consider what they could do better. Regular self-reflection helps you do this by getting you to dedicate a short amount of time (15 minutes is ideal) to look back on your day and really think about what you could do differently.

A study by the Harvard Business School highlights what self-reflection can do for a business. Participants who spent 15 minutes at the end of each day self-reflecting performed 23 per cent better after 10 days than those who did not self reflect.

You can significantly improve your leadership skills by spending 15 minutes a day thinking about what you could do differently.
You’ll see huge improvements in your leadership simply by spending 15 minutes of your day thinking about what you could do differently.

So why don’t people do it more often?

The benefits of self-reflection are clear, but many people – particularly leaders – don’t do it often. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, many people just don’t know how to self-reflect, not really. That’s because they’re not in the habit of doing it, and they don’t know what tasks or what questions to ask themselves when they do get round to it.

Thinking about your vulnerabilities can be difficult for natural leaders.

Secondly, many natural leaders don’t like the process of self-reflection. It involves opening yourself up to your inner weaknesses, and taking personal responsibility about things that might not quite be going to plan. For those who have succeeded by focusing on their strengths, this concept can be difficult, if not downright terrifying.

Finally, leaders are often people of action. They are successful because they see something that needs to be done and they do it. So the idea of sitting down and doing nothing but thinking – even if it’s only for 15 minutes a day – may seem completely foreign.

How can you self-reflect effectively?

However, if leaders do decide to take some time out of their day to consider their actions, they stand in good stead to completely change the way they work. So, how can leaders self-reflect effectively?

1) Think of some questions

Coming up with a few questions to ask yourself in each self-reflection session will help to give you structure, and ensure you stick to your goal of finding areas for improvement. Questions could include:

  1. What tasks are you avoiding doing and why?
  2. If you could live your day again, what would you do differently?
  3. Are you setting goals for yourself each day, and are you achieving those? If not, what’s holding you back?
  4. Are you helping your team to achieve their goals? How might you be hindering their progress?

These are just a few examples, and each case of self-reflection will differ depending on the person.

Encouraging self-reflection in your team will mean your company can benefit even more from the practice.
The best leaders encourage self-reflection among their teams as well as themselves.

2) Dedicate time

Business leaders always have something they could be doing, and this means it’ll always be easy to simply put off self-reflection in favour of some other task. But scheduling 15 minutes into your calendar each day will help to ensure you don’t miss your self-reflection time.

3) Change it up according to what works

The whole point of self-reflection is you’re looking at what can be improved. If you find the questions you’ve set aren’t working for you, don’t be afraid to change it up until you find something that does suit.

Likewise, how are you answering your questions? Perhaps you’re writing the answers down in a notebook, or maybe you prefer to talk it through with a mentor or someone else that’s close to you? Everyone is different, so experiment until you find something that works.

4) Encourage others

The best leaders won’t just encourage self-reflection in themselves, they’ll also get their team to do it too. Only then will your company see the true benefits that self-reflection can bring.

Thinking it’s time for your next career move? Maybe considering a step into the C-suite? The executive recruitment experts at JacksonStone can help. Contact the team today to find out more.